The instructor

A good instructor is concerned with the spirit of the art. Their tai chi chuan should be lively and fresh, not droll.
Vibrant tai chi chuan possesses spirit.

The instructor should look lively and expressive.
Their applications are varied and diverse, spontaneous and effective.
The art flows from them without effort. They are natural, comfortable and at ease.


Palm changes

Palm changes are essentially form. We practice 8 different palm changes.

Palm changes are quite short in length.
They teach the body how to move in a bagua manner and enhance your ability to walk the circle.
A student learns how to coordinate changing, stepping, turning and arm movement.


Your own agenda

Everyone has an agenda.
The more honest and open you are about your own, the more likely you are to find a suitable class.

Do you have health-problems? Have you bad knees? A bad back?
Are you concerned about being thrown on the floor?
Does the prospect of self defence training frighten you?
Is your age an issue?
What are your expectations?
Are you willing to commit to a weekly class?
Do have previous tai chi chuan experience? (Are you hoping that the new class will be the same as the old?)
Are you attending class because you really want to, or because you think you should?

Tai chi master

Mastering tai chi requires the following:

• A lifelong commitment to the furtherance of the art
• Spontaneous demonstration of every and any aspect of the art
• The ability to train other people to become tai chi instructors
• An embodiment of the principles outlined in the Tai Chi Classics
• Highly accurate rendition of every exercise/form/drill/application
• Extensive knowledge of every facet of every subject in the syllabus i.e. 'jing'
• An in-depth understanding of every facet of the exercise/form/drill/application
• How the exercise/form/drill/application links to other aspects of the curriculum
• The ability to dismantle and explain how and why the different components operate
• Grace, ease, subtlety, sensitivity, nimbleness, appropriateness, simplicity are all a given
• The willingness to train disciples to acquire every aspect of the teaching and perpetuate the art themselves
• Unselfconscious, skilled and utterly effective application of the art in combat employing chin na, jing and shuai jiao
• The ability to develop, improve and deliver a thorough, fully differentiated syllabus suitable for all ability levels and all ages
• The ability to dismantle and explain how and why every form posture operates and how it can be applied in at least 7 different ways
• Comprehensive theoretical knowledge and the ability to discuss and explain how taoism, martial theory and actual practice all tie together
• The ability to apply the tai chi principles (yielding, stickiness, peng, jing, composure, connection, 4 ounces etc) in every situation with absolute ease and certainty


When to concentrate

Concentration is a specialist tool and should be employed sparingly.
There are many situations in which it is important to concentrate.
Other occasions would benefit from attention rather than concentration.

Determining the appropriate application of concentration can improve learning and help you to narrow down options.


Things people say...

I've heard people comment that tai chi chuan cannot be used in self defence... or that the bagua palm changes are a training method rather than martial...

These comments/opinions tell me two things:

1. The person saying them cannot personally apply these arts
2. They have not attended our school

It is dangerous to generalise about martial arts; applicability rests in the hands of the instructor. The better your instructor, the more they can do with the tools they have been given.